Facebook data mining?

I'm used to Facebook suggesting friends for me. In every case, Facebook's computer gremlins base their suggestion on the fact that I share other friends with someone, so perhaps I want to be friends with that person too.

In every case … until today.

Today I logged in and Facebook recommended that I friend a first cousin. What's weird here is that this is a cousin I'm not close to. He has a different last name, and lives in a state I've never lived in. He and I share zero friends, and we have none of the same interests or networks.

So how the hell did Facebook know I might want to be friends with this cousin. (I do, in fact, want that, but that's not the point).

Maybe after he (hopefully) accepts my friend request, I'll find some data point we share in common that would explain why Facebook connected us.

But for now, my only theory is that Facebook is doing some sort of datamining of third-party databases. I have never synched up my Gmail with Facebook in order to have Facebook "find" my contacts, nor is any single FB friend of mine an email partner with this cousin. We inhabit very different online and offline universes.

How did FB make the connection? Are they buying access to the big consumer and credit databases and somehow feeding that info into their connections algorithm?

Another explanation, I suppose, is that my cousin synched his email to FB as a way to connect with his contacts. He and I have exchanged emails, so that's one possible way this happened.

Stay tuned…


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